Category: iPhone

Speaking in Portland and San Francisco

Speaking in Portland and San Francisco

I’m speaking at two upcoming events—I’d love it if you came!

First we have Donut.js, a casual gathering that is so very Portland. “A fun night of code and donuts” is the slogan, and your entry includes a donut, come on! I’ll be presenting on Tuesday, May 30th, talking about online dating (but more from a UX perspective than a dating advice perspective). Tickets are $10 atCup & Bar, I’d love it if you came to join us!

Then on June 15th at 1 PM, I’m speaking at AltConf in San Francisco. AltConf is a free conference that runs parallel to Apple’s WWDC; I’d be honored if you came to hear me, but the session will also be recorded if you miss it. This talk will be more about my transition from The Heartographer to working at Microsoft, why online dating is kind of a garbage fire these days, why I made the shift away from entrepreneurship, and partly about App Camp too. It’ll be a longer time slot and a much more robust discussion, plus I think you’ll find my slides funny. :)

Speaking of, I’m also in town for the James Dempsey and the Breakpoints/App Camp for Girls fundraising party that night, which you should absolutely buy tickets to before they all disappear. (And by the way, you can always contribute whenever if you just wanna be rad.) Hope to see you there! Fuck it, hope to see you at all three things! (Might as well go big, right?)

Pinterest iOS bookmarklet workaround

Pinterest iOS bookmarklet workaround

Ages ago, I was annoyed by how irritatingly hard it was to pin images to Pinterest on my iPhone. I was essentially pissed that iOS 8 extensions didn’t yet exist. I hacked together my own bookmark link that was a combo of Marco Arment’s Instapaper bookmarklet-adding instructions of yore (something like this), plus whatever code the native “Pin It” bookmarklet generated.

The URL code for my mobile bookmarklet is:

javascript:void((function(d)%7Be=d.createElement('script');e.setAttribute('type','text/javascript');e.setAttribute('charset','UTF-8');e.setAttribute('src','//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinmarklet.js?r='+Math.random()*99999999);d.body.appendChild(e);%7D(document)));

This code works better than most native “Pin It” buttons on most retailer websites, in my experience. It lets you pick any image on the page instead of forcing just one. I never did bother trying to figure out how to strip stupid retailer default text, but my hope/expectation was that retailers would get less shitty about this over time with increased Pinterest fluency. Ha ha.

I’m only posting this now because I’ve found that so far, Pinterest’s new iOS 8 extension is a bunch of janky bullshit. Here’s hoping that changes soon, but blogging it out there just in case! Let’s all cross our extra 6 Plus long fingers that Pinterest cleans things up before you actually wind up getting frustrated enough to implement this solution. :)

ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ Unicode madness

ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ Unicode madness

*Disclaimer* Unicode is not well supported in some browsers, especially on mobile. This is tricky since this entire post is about Unicode. I’m sorry your eyes might have to see ugly unsupported squares or blank spaces instead of the proper pretty entities I intended. If you’re interested in reading, soldier on; the characters in the actual list at the end are better supported than the letters that spell out the Apple Watch in the first paragraph. You can do it! Harass your favorite web dev about this today; they’ll *love* it!

Hey nerds! The recent iPhone and ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ announcement has most people in my Twitter feed geeking out over how to write “ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ” all fancy like Apple did. (In fact, my live tweet during the event explaining how to make the  character is my most popular tweet yet. Crazy, eh?)

For years I’ve been rocking an increasingly lengthy Special Characters note, which syncs across all my ᴅᴇᴠɪᴄᴇs. A few of these can be accessed via native keyboards like the Japanese one, but with iOS 8’s new keyboard capabilities I find it much easier to just stick the useful characters (mainly just the empty and full stars for fake review snark) here and delete the Japanese keyboard I never use for actual kana anyway.

Note that these Unicode characters aren’t the same thing as Emoji (that’s a whole separate ranty post) so I find they’re usually more annoying to obtain via typical channels such as an emoji app or keyboard. Copying and pasting from the note has been a pretty good solution for me so far.

The second most recent (penultimecent?) Overtired episode  made reference to writing ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ out all fancy-like, so I thought Christina and Brett might appreciate my little list. (Heck, maybe Brett will decide to make a cool tool for it.) But then I was like, wait a minute… I send this list to tweeps and coworkers and clients about three times a year. I finally realized that maybe I should just blog it (duh).

Here are my favorites with my use case annotations, followed by my semi-exhaustive list and a Unicode smallcaps converter link I stumbled upon. I’ve added and removed things over the years to try to keep it mostly useful; I keep paring down different styles of arrows.

What characters am I missing? What would you add, or what do you constantly use and hate fiddling around to find? I’d love to know!

My frequently used Unicode characters

‽ = Interrobang
Marco Arment used this in a tweet at me once (I forget what about) and it inspired me to start up this doc. I also have a keyboard shortcut turning ?! and !? into ‽, so I don’t have to keep track of which one is valid, haha. (Nerds who are nerdy enough to know the difference but not nerdy enough to implement the Unicode shortcut surely exist and might set me straight.) This character is great for expressing baffled wonderment and the like, but I really wish Apple knew how to enforce an initial capital letter following it. Anyone know a hack for THAT?*

∞ = Infinity
I use this all the time as character-saving hyperbole. Like this tweet about my first babysitting experience in about a decade, to estimate the number of diapers changed. (Better than a smiling poo pile emoji, right?)

® ™ © = Legalese
I like using these for snarky fake product, company, and slogan jokes. Maybe you like using them to actually respect trademark guidelines, or ironically imply deferential respect to a brand you hate (or genuinely imply it to one you actually like but if that’s the case I’m not 100% clear as to why you enjoy reading my blog tbh).

∴ ≠ ≤ ≥ = Logic and Math Stuff
I like these (therefore, not equal to, less than or equal to, and greater than or equal to) for character-saving shorthand when making a point on Twitter. Remember, kids, don’t actually argue on the Internet if you enjoy your life. Jokey arguments only.

I just thought of this one

♯ = Sharp
I’ve never actually done this, but I just realized you might be able to use this instead of a hash character if you want to shorthand numbers or ironic hashtags or something without it converting to actual hashtag syntax in social media environments. So I’m adding that here in case it solves some weird problem you sort of had. I can’t believe I gave it a <h3> section either.

The list

Just copy from “Special Characters” through the URL, omitting the snarky footnote inelegantly implemented at the end of this post. I’m sorry/you’re welcome.

Special characters


®

©

ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ

°




·




¢


























α
β
Ξ
ξ
Γ
γ
Δ
δ
Π
π
ε
ζ
Σ
σ
ς
η
τ
Θ
θ
ι
Φ
φ
κ
χ
Λ
λ
Ψ
ψ
Μ
μ
Ω
ω
































http://fsymbols.com/generators/smallcaps/

 

*If the answer is 26 individual keyboard shortcut hacks for each instance of it plus a letter, or 52 for each instance of !? and ?! plus each letter if you can’t stack two shortcuts together, then congrats! You are officially nerdier/more patient than I am. Come type them in on my giant 6 Plus that I hope to obtain soon and I’ll give you some free online dating advice in exchange. Look, I don’t mean to profile, but it’s possible you need it if this is how you spend your time. Single 20s Me can totally relate.

Initial iPhone 6 Plus impressions

Initial iPhone 6 Plus impressions

Make no mistake; I don’t actually have my 6 Plus yet. But I went out of my way to try and get one early in line Friday morning. When I found out for sure that the store wouldn’t have the stock to accommodate my order, it was only half an hour before they opened their doors. I decided to stick around and get my hands on the demo 6 Plus as a sanity check.

The manager was kind enough to take this pic of the phone (and my ass and my ill-conceived skinny jeans, but let’s stay focused). He also let me put the demo model in my purse so I could make sure it fit in the internal pockets. Even with the annoying security dongle thingy, it was very helpful to get to do this. And I decided there’s nothing to worry about, size-wise.

My use case

I have super severe tennis elbow in both arms. This means that I’ve gotten used to mostly typing two-handed since halfway through my usage of the very first iPhone, when my RSI injury occurred. It’s annoying, but I’m way faster and more accurate when I use two hands anyway. Yes, I do occasionally poke around one-handed, but that’s totally when I drop my phone or introduce typos or what have you. For me, “significant” one-handed use (like furious text entry) has long been a bad habit I needed to quit.

As for storing the device, I’m a lady who usually carries a purse. Even if the purse pockets that seem to be dedicated for cell phones are too small to accommodate a 6 Plus (not as problematic in recent purses), there’s usually this other larger zippered pocket opposite the “cell phone and pens” side. The 6 Plus fits (always in portrait, sometimes in landscape) in this zippered pocket in all my existing bags. My main concern is actually minor scratching/screen damage from touching said zipper, since I’m not sure any reputable screen protectors have shipped yet. In past years I’ve been inconsistent about screen protector usage, but I’d plan on using one specifically because the 6 Plus’s size means it’s more likely to knock into internal purse hardware.

I had no trouble fitting the 6 Plus poorly into my back pocket. I don’t tend to deliberately carry my iPhone in most pants pockets; front pockets are annoying for me (and often too small in lady pants, sigh) and back pockets have always looked weird and felt like a potential security risk (from pickpocketing to accidental toilet dropping). Back pocketing my iPhone has always felt like something ill advised, like a bad habit I wanted to quit. A larger form factor will force me to quit being lazy about securing my giant, expensive, blingy mini computer, you know?

The phone itself

The camera bulge is barely noticeable. I mean, sure, it’s more obvious than before, but it’s no big deal. Quit whining, tech Twitter. :) It’s NOTHING like the giant bulge on, say, a Nokia Lumia, and the pics do seem stellar. (Didn’t get to test the OIS in a low light setting, but it seemed even better than my 5s, as was expected.)

The screen is lovely. Didn’t notice anything janky with older apps, but everything on the phone appeared to be a special demo version so I doubt they had them loaded with shitty scaled-up apps. (Fun note; there was a copy of Threes on the demo phones! Nice plug, right? Pardon my terrible surreptitious pic.)

IMG_9299

The body style may be reminiscent of the original iPhone, but the 6 Plus’s external build quality feels nowhere near as nice as the first iPhone. The glass has a weird curved edge where it meets the body (can you kinda see its reflection in this awkwardly snapped shot?) and it actually seems to cheapen the whole look; it makes the screen seem like it’s made of plastic to me. The metal on the back isn’t as great as that first gen iPhone; again, it feels oddly plasticky, like when they try to trick you into thinking an appliance is stainless steel with a shitty layer of bullshit that inevitably peels within weeks. The buttons don’t have the same feel of incredibly sturdy and expensive materials. This phone feels great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m clearly super nostalgic for v1 of this thing, and the 6 Plus doesn’t really scratch that itch in person.

Oh, and Gruber is totally right! It’s super, duper weird to have that sleep-wake button on the side. That’s seriously going to mess with me, haha. I’ll fail to silence calls speedily for at least a month after I get it. I’m annoyed I didn’t also test the stronger vibrate motor that Gruber mentioned, but I forgot in my hurry to not block other customers who were actually going to buy something that day.

The gold is surprisingly tacky looking. Specifically, the whitish plastic accents on the back of the 6 Plus look terrible with that champagney gold. I had no space gray (also known as “gray”) model against which to compare, but I feel like black plastic accents will be subtler. It was like the white ones were sort of transluscent, which felt like a mismatch with the design vibe the rest of the device was going for. And of course, with black I’ll get the better contrast to make the screen look even better. (I still wish that the gold and black model Siracusa once theorized about existed; I’d totes get that.)

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 2.57.38 PMEdited to add: this helpful view on Target’s website actually shows me that the back of the Space Gray model still has ugly whitish translucent plastic on the back. I still think I’m going with this model, though, which I definitely wouldn’t have decided sight unseen.

The ordering process

I was at an out of town wedding during the night preorders went live, so I wasn’t timely about it. When I got home later that night, I tried placing a pre-order (at maybe 12:30 PM) and it was a train wreck via every Apple channel.

After some dogged research, I determined that the issue seemed to be that AT&T had a rule that they would only let me preorder and have it shipped to the address associated with my wireless account. An AT&T rep later confirmed this; they don’t permit ANY in-store pickup preorders. This seems insane to me since their competition clearly does permit in-store pickup preordering—and their shipping estimates even half an hour after launch were several weeks out. Such a crappy customer experience, and that seemingly random rule    is so poorly communicated to both customers and AT&T/Apple employees. (It took three escalations to get a clear answer.)

Anyway, I decided to try my luck at waiting in line, partly because I thought it might be kind of entertaining. (I’ve been an iPhoner on alternating years since the first gen, and I’ve never once waited in line.) So I got up at 4 and drove to my local Apple Store… where some 300 folks were already camping out. A confusing awkward encounter with an ex Apple retail employee (he thought he knew me, I thought I knew him, we were both wrong) convinced me to try my luck waiting in the nearby AT&T line instead. I did, and it  wound up being much more friendly and low volume. (Didn’t actually get me a phone though; d’oh!)

As we waited, I wound up explaining a bunch of AT&T features and options to many people in line, as well as loaning out pens for these stupid survey checklist things the employees handed out. It was a little hilarious. Their “Next” gimmick to get you to pay buttloads was very poorly understood. I also hadn’t realized that they would let you pay full retail price to avoid a two-year contract lock-in; I think that option is new for them. Us old time iPhoners theorized that AT&T would eventually cut the unlimited data plan into which many of us were grandfathered; if/when they do, I will probably jump ship since I find them to be an unpleasant carrier in so many ways.

I had actually looked into switching our household to another carrier  last year for my 5s purchase. I was deterred from T-Mobile by many reports of lesser network coverage in rural areas where friends and family live; I was reluctant to consider Verizon because they didn’t used to allow voice and data usage at the same time. (I haaaate talking on the phone without being able to multitask in email or with navigation on.) Verizon now seems to have solved that, but I’m not sure it’s worth bothering since they’re another “expensive” carrier. Still, if I do get kicked out of AT&T’s remaining $30/person unlimited data tier, I fully expect to jump ship somewhere.

After all this kerfluffle, I think we plan to order my 6 Plus at the same time as a new MacBook for Grant sometime next week, so we can finance it interest free. By the way, if you’ve never considered Apple’s financing option via Barclay, I highly recommend taking a look at it—most laptop purchases by people with decent credit will yield either 12 or 18 months of no interest, which is ample time to pay it off via reasonable monthly payments with no extra expense (unless you’re buying the $10k Mac Pro. And actually, I kinda wonder how this will work with gold ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ models, ya know? Hm.)

Obviously, don’t be cavalier about opening up lines of credit, especially if you’re trying to qualify for something bigger like a home loan—but I love this option and I’m glad to use it every couple years or so. The Barclay reps will even help you figure out the exact payment amount necessary to perfectly zero out at the end of the term.

So I won’t actually *get* my 6 Plus for several weeks, unless I manage to snag one at a store and decide to just pony up for it. Which I might. We’ll see. I’ll be in NYC soon; maybe I’ll buy one at the 5th Ave flagship store and then immediately get mugged before I’ve set up Touch ID.

Oh, and that reminds me: when I was chatting with a guy at Target after failing to buy one there, he said the 6 Plus is even bigger than [insert name of giant Android phone whose name I forget] and that that Android thing was his most commonly returned item because “it’s just way too big.” To him and his whiny customers, I say this: suck it up and get a purse! <3

Virginia vs. Minimally Minimal

Virginia vs. Minimally Minimal

A blogger I love, Andrew Kim, recently reviewed a couple mobile phones. Andrew is a very different person than I am. I’m design-picky, for sure, but I’m far more obsessed with pragmatism, ergonomics, and comfort than with aesthetics, minimalism, and polish. We have different careers and backstories that inform our different values, and I’m WAY less savvy about photography than he is. I’ve been reading his blog (thanks to Grant) for a couple years, and I find his tech reviews the most fascinating of all his content, because I’ve never read anyone whose love of design tips the scales so heavily. I respect it even if I don’t get it.

Image sourceAndrew recently reviewed the Nokia Lumia 1020, and he praised it highly. VERY highly. Especially the photography. So I was very eager to check out one of these devices. 1 A few weeks ago, when some strangers at a nighttime event asked me to take a pic of them using their Nokia Lumia 1020, I was stoked to check it out.

My impression of that phone was colored by Andrew’s glowing review, and I was immediately disappointed. I was surprised by how heavy yet cheap the chassis felt. That camera bump was AWFUL. The gal who owned the phone kept explaining to me that you touch anywhere on the screen to take a pic, which I understood but I guess I seemed like I didn’t get it as I spent too long analyzing her phone, because I was inspecting the device and I think she was like ‘WTF is wrong with this chick,’ haha. So: press anywhere. Nice feature! 2

But the pics SUCKED; or rather, the ones I could see sucked. The phone took forever to actually shoot after my press, and it kept jumping around in regards to focus and lighting and color while it was trying to shoot. After this awkward jumpy delay cycle, the shots it ended on each time were distinctly green-tinged and didn’t look all that high res at all. Maybe the Nokia’s screen just isn’t as amazing as Apple’s retina screen, because the exported Nokia pics Andrew posts in his 5s review definitely look higher-res and crisper. This was not at all apparent on the device’s screen. They were grainy, greenish, barely-in-focus shots that took several seconds for the phone to render. It felt incredibly backwards and laggy and shoddy given that Andrew set my expectations sky-high. Granted, this is one low-light, biased encounter. But still.

Yet when I see the output from Andrew’s shooting, the Nokia fares indisputably better when it comes to graininess (definitely) and focus (I think). In his iPhone 5s review, Andrew shows a number of side by sides, which I’m not posting here outright because I feel like he’s the kind of blogger who would strongly prefer that I not do so, even if I linked back to him. You’ll just have to go read his full post. He does point out that, while the iPhone 5s seems to incorrectly over-warm shots when the flash is used, the Lumia 1020 seems to over-cool them so neither choice is perfect. But I’ll be damned if nearly every Lumia shot doesn’t look better the way he presents them (his captions indicate the settings).

I wish I could follow up with those Night Market stranger girls and ask to see the output of those photos, you know, the enormous high-res versions that I’m pretty sure you have to use a cable to transfer off your phone. That would be, pardon the pun, ilLUMI(a)nating. (I’m so sorry. Please feel free to remove me from your RSS reader.) But I can’t; all I can say is that for much more casual photographers like myself, the 5s felt like a more natural photography experience.

I’d love to toy around with a Nokia Lumia 1020 more. Heck, I’d love to have a shoot-off with Andrew himself, though I’m sure he has many more interesting social and press-ish requests. As a lazy photographer consumer, I’ve been obsessed with having a great camera on my phone for many years now, because it drastically affects the number and the quality of photos I take. (I was one of those people who came home from a vacation with nothing to show until about the 3GS.) I’ve never had a natural talent or affinity for photography, but I sure feel more competent with a powerful cell phone in my purse or pocket. I can totally see gravitating to whatever hardware has the best camera in a decade, when all operating systems are totally different than the current weirdly forked Apple/Android/Windows marketplace. That’s what it feels like Andrew was doing, but prematurely, since the market in my eyes is still so much more favorable to Apple customers.

Andrew makes a very good point about how emotional we get in relation to our phones:

Phones are fascinating. They live closer to our body than any other device other than the watch. And if your job doesn’t involve working on a PC, you probably use it more than any other “computer”. Because of our intimate relationship to these glowing bricks, we seem to become very emotional about what device we chose. I don’t think I’ve gotten more dramatic responses than when I praised Windows Phone or bought an iPhone 5S.

I’m not declaring war between platforms or saying that one approach is superior to the other. Android, iOS, and Windows Phone all have their strengths and weaknesses. We seem to get carried away trying to pick a singular winner. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what you – or I – use at the end of the day. It’s just a window into services or information you’re looking for.

He’s so right. I wouldn’t be moved to write this long-ass post or deeply examine a stranger’s device if these things weren’t increasingly important in our lives, you know? There are fewer more vitriolic debates amongst the tech geeks these days. It’s no longer “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC;” it’s all about the respective choices in our pockets (or, in the case of Glass or that watch, worn on our bodies).

In parting, I’ll point out that Andrew is annoyed by a few aspects of the iPhone 5s leather case, but he doesn’t seem bothered by any of the same frustrations that bother me. As I said before; very different perspectives. I agree that the 5s battery life is surprisingly meh, but I use the CRAP out of that thing so I’m hardly surprised.

 

  1. I had briefly played with some hTC Windows phone when a sidewalk spammer approached me to demo one. (That’s what I call them. They’re probably called Foot Traffic Ambassadors or something.) This sidewalker (?) showed me a demo last year when the operating system first came out. I was really interested in many of the features, such as Local Scout, but I was frustrated that whatever she showed me was unsurprisingly a demo and not really on par with the operating system in the wild. This poor girl was super duper helpful; I told her straight out that I was wildly hostile to most sidewalk marketing people, that I was a die-hard iPhoner, and that I was a picky as hell software tester about to ask her a bunch of frustrating questions. She was totally game.
  2. It’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t in any way likely that I’d accidentally take the shot; something about the Nokia’s bezel prevented this.
iPhone 5s and accessories

iPhone 5s and accessories

I got my iPhone 5s, and I LOVE it. (Space Gray, 32 GB, ordered via AT&T because the Apple Store hated me at preorder o’clock.) 1AT&T did a good job with all this; surprisingly, much better than Apple. 2 I was debating getting a larger hard drive, because I love having a massive music library on there and never having to think about space management when I shoot HD video or what have you. But after some research we decided to stick with AT&T as our carrier, and as such, we’re grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. So I decided I can rely more on streaming services. 3

As soon as I knew I had a phone en route, I went ahead ordered the yellow leather case and an extra two-meter Lightning cable from Apple. 4 I forgot to pay for fancy shipping (as I usually do when a slower but free option is available), so I just recently got this package. I’m glad I have them, but I have seriously mixed feelings about this case.

Just as I feared, the headphone jack takes you back to iPhone 1 days when nothing fits in because the hole is too deep. (Har har; go make the That’s What She Said joke and come back when you’re done.) I do still have some headphoney accessories designed to work with my original iPhone, but the vast majority are now defunct because they’re much more cheaply manufactured than Apple’s cables. 5

The headphone stuff is annoying on its own, but gets worse when coupled with Lightning cable aperture issues. Because that hole is also too small. I’m mostly OK with only buying Lightning cables that have a smallish aperture from now on. But how, HOW could apple design their Lightning adapter at 30-pin width, and then make a case that doesn’t accommodate said adapter? Argh! Because the leather case is incredibly difficult to remove (and who wants to constantly have to remove a case anyway), this is very irritating to me given our plethora of 30-pin items. I’m going to have to find some janky-ass third-party Lightning adaptor with a small enough girth (shut up) to work with them, or suck it up and spend a lot on new Lightning cables. 6 And as my Internet Pal Keith pointed out, the opening is too small for even non-30-pin choices. I’ve long thought Amazon Basics cables were WAY too bulky, but this still sucks:


Anyway, aperture frustrations aside, here are some not particularly well sorted hardware and accessory musings:

  • I hate how the bottom headphone holes are asymmetrical to make room for the headphone jack. Yes, I realize I’m insane. But it’s ugly, you know? And that much more obvious with the leather case.
  • The whole jack on the bottom thing takes a while to get used to, coming from a 4S! I don’t have strong feelings about this, but I certainly haven’t adjusted yet.
  • So does the TouchID sensor. I mostly remember to use it now, but gosh do I wish it worked from a sleep state.
  • I keep running into circumstances that still require me to enter my full AppleID password. Bummer! I thought I’d be freer of that. It feels like I still have to enter my AppleID password like 50% of the time. I need a less-mobile-keyboard-annoying password, I guess.
  • I’m sad to report that I don’t see a huge difference in the allegedly warm amber flash. I need to try it out on more humans instead of just cats, though.
  • Burst mode is FANTASTIC. But don’t you dare import into iPhoto before you remembered to clear a burst! I wish there were an iPhoto prompt about this. Maybe in Mavericks, but I doubt it.
  • Again, I know I’m insane, but it irks me that the inside of the camera aperture is black plastic, whereas the Lightning and headphone jack openings are just that crappy same-color yellow plasticky sealant. It’s inconsistent looking and less cleanly applied and yes I already said I know I’m insane. Look, you knew what you were getting into reading this. It doesn’t look “Apple,” OK?
  • The yellow leather case is a much greener yellow than anticipated. It looks positively chartreuse compared to my more goldenrod-colored lamps in my office. Looks greener than the yellow 5c too, though I haven’t compared in person.
  • The leather feels lovely and seems to hold up well to dirt/scuffing despite not being all that shiny or glossy a finish.
  • The top button is *significantly* harder to depress, but I’m hoping this softens up over time. The volume buttons are fine. The NY Times Symphony Scandal switch still feels easy enough for me to access, though Grant was annoyed by it being harder for him to get at. I’m not bothered.
  • I really, really like how the entire face is completely naked in this case.
  • I tried a Titan screen protector and I want to set it on fire.
  • Apparently Apple didn’t really plan ahead with the 5s dock. Read the comments about how it obscures the Home Button and how the jack doesn’t work for calls.
  • Despite all this kvetching, I really do like the leather case and plan to keep it. I just wish it felt better planned.

 

 

  1.  I went to bed, forgetting it was preorder night, and woke up with a start and scared my pal Jean who was kind enough to host me while I was in Portland pretending to be at XOXOfest. Jean sympathised and calmed me down after Apple said it hated me, and she helped me figure out what were reasonable choices to make (i.e. don’t go get in a line in the cold, dummy; just order it online via AT&T and wait a COUPLE days. You’ll hardly be the only one. Jean is so smart. And it’s amazingly helpful to have  a buddy in that frenzied moment!)

    So that’s how that all went. Let’s see how this works, embedding tweets in footnotes.

  2. The order went through, their site functioned as intended at midnight (unlike Apple’s confusingly punitive error, heh) and the phone got to me WAY sooner than their original estimate of mid-October. (I received it the Monday after the preorder.) Of COURSE I only articulate this thought after I receive the damn thing, but I must say, we should really be thankful of all the logistics-level workers who pitch in every time around, from China right on through to US warehouses and delivery services. It must be such an absolute pain in the ass clusterf*ck every damn year. I hope people get overtime pay AND a free iPhone for their hustle.
  3. Especially since I spent that extra hundred bucks on AppleCare(+?) this time around instead, as it now covers accidental shatterings. I considered getting gold, but it mattered more to me that my phone get here sooner, especially since I always planned to slap a case on it anyhow. (I’m a menace so the AppleCare and the case are just non-negotiables for me.) And I’ve missed having a black screen surround.
  4. I like the extra length for awkward coffee shop outlets; very glad you can get that first-party now. Was this also available for Apple brand 30-pin cables and I just never noticed?
  5. Apple brand cables always last me a good couple years, even if they look like this at the end. Seriously, part of why I’m so whiny about all this noise is that the multiple ten-dollar solutions I’m going to buy to make this new case work are going to crap out after about a month of light-to-medium usage. Happens every time. And I haven’t found a single “high-end” third-party provider to solve this. Yet I keep thinking it’s worthwhile to order cheap-ass Hong Kongian cables on Amazon; go figure.
  6. In browsing Amazon options, I see many comments noting that third-party Lightning cables don’t work with iOS 7 which seems bonkers but what do I know. So shop carefully.
Living room makeover

Living room makeover

I didn’t grow up super decor-minded, you guys, despite what you read on this blog and possibly see in my obsessive Pinterest habits. I grew up in a bunch of weird different homes over the years, the most stable of which had cheap-ass wall-to-wall builder-grade beige carpet, Formica countertops, those ugly schoolhouse linoleum floors, and aluminum blinds. It also had ugly pseudo-modern 90s light fixtures with that pale green glass and shit, and the first-ever energy-efficient CFLs, which were not all that C and which emitted an even greener, buzzier, flickerier lighting than today’s CFLs. I kinda thought everyone grew up with builder-grade fixtures; I was fascinated by the people in my co-housing community who had a bunch of fancy much-nicer upgrades done to their unit. I never had, like, coordinating sets of anything growing up, except the duvet and matching sham my mom made me, and I rarely cared about things like thread count. I had a preference for natural materials, but that was about it. (It blew my MIND in 1998 and 2001 that all the Spanish kitchens I saw had granite countertops. I literally never met a single person growing up who had those. Were they just not a thing before the 90s in this country?)

Because of this less Home and Garden focused upbringing, it took me a long time to blossom into someone who appreciated nesting. Before I had my own apartment, I was really uninterested in home décor stores; I’d get super bored while my nestier friends wanted to poke around looking at cute vases and photo frames and such. And my first apartment on my own was a tiny studio and I was super-broke, so I didn’t do a ton of decoratey spending there either. From that abode I moved into a house with roommates so I also didn’t feel wildly motivated to decorate outside my own bedroom. However, being annoyed by one roommate’s constant revolving door of dudes I had to awkwardly share a bathroom, kitchen, living, and dining room with meant that I really put a lot of effort into making said bedroom an amazing little sanctuary. I went high-end for Ikea (this was pre-Stockholm collection) and bought stuff from their actual-wood HEMNES collection. (I guess having a woodworker for a father did rub off on me in that way; I’m not super duper handy or crafty and I certainly can’t build my own furniture, but I do have a respect for wood itself rather than MDF crap.) I also scoured Garnet Hill and West Elm for great clearance bedding and Overstock for great basics like real down pillows and comforters, and I suppose that broke-yet-nesty period was the beginning of the home décor obsessed Virginia I am today.

It wasn’t until I moved from that shared house into an apartment with Grant that I really started to get the appeal of interior design. And that, my friends, has still been a slow process. Plus, in blending our two tastes, as well as working with the strange 50s fixed elements in that rental, we haven’t always been that interesting, because we’ve tended to stick to kinda boring palette of too many neutrals as a strategy for compatibility and for blending a bunch of different stuff together. But that All Neutrals All The Time crap is getting boring.

A picture of my house, featuring a chair with my cat Trumpet sleeping on it.

We own a house now, that we’ve been in for two and a half years with only this amazing yet possibly way impractical rug as a major purchase. We’ve been here long enough and we’ve fixed and re-fixed enough small things that we’re finally getting kinda handy, a little, and we’re getting used to the idea that we can do whatever we want to any of the walls and fixtures, and we’re starting to actually become comfortable with spending some of the money we’ve saved up.

This is not a starter home; we hope to raise our kids through college here if life permits it. (I moved around a bunch as a kid, Grant didn’t; our small survey indicates the latter is better if you can pull it off, so we saved up to avoid the Starter Home phase.) That knowledge of this being our Foreverish Home has made us yet slower to make big changes, since I’m now consciously striving to be less trend-driven and go for more timeless/classic looks, which sometimes means not updating fixed features like a brick fireplace or an old-fashioned lighting fixture since you may regret it in five or even fifteen years when the old look comes back around and it’s hard to undo and you wish you hadn’t spent that money in the first place. You can see how this type of evaluation would take me time! But over the past few years, I’ve been researching home design excitedly, and let me tell you, shit’s about to get real. Real bright and colorful and coordinated and classy and comfortable and maybe even a bit glamorous, that is. And probably real messy while we figure it out.

A picture of my dining room.

Next on my list is a combo of things: sofas/LR seating for better flow, capacity, machiness, and comfort; possible rug swap-out for better matchiness; window treatments for light blocking, coordination, and drama, not to mention energy efficiency; paint for looks; lighting fixtures for looks and functionality; and possible fireplace and surround revampification for total room coordination and possibly glamour/drama. Not necessarily in that order, but probably, sorta.

I’m taking advantage of Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure program this month to (loosely) follow along and stay motivated about making the changes we’ve been fantasizing about for years now. The primary focus is the living room, which is super important because it’s what our front door opens into, and where we spend the vast majority of our time now that we have a TV in there. (I don’t wanna hear it, hippies; it’s well documented that TV is higher quality than ever and we don’t watch the crap. Well, mostly. I haven’t stopped watching True Blood yet but I’m ashamed of and exasperated with myself, and I’m working on it, OK? OK.) PLUS, my Heartographer clients walk through that space to get to my office, so I want it looking awesome. Therefore, we’re tackling every single one of the above-mentioned topics in just that room alone, haha. With no clear budget, more like “as little as possible yet make it as awesome as possible” so yeah. It’s a bit cray.

Even though it may seem like a lot, I’m reveling in this new-found joy of decorating. And in all this research, I’ve come to realize some things that are damn near epiphanies to this cheap-historied décor novice. I’m going to start blogging about some of those epiphanies soon, in sort of mini-installments by topic so they don’t get overwhelmingly long, and I’ll also probably do a couple of round-ups of my favorite sites and resources since many friends have been asking me for those lately anyway.

First up will be one about curtain (and window treatment in general) epiphanies! So look out for that post soon if you give a damn about all this decoratey stuff, and if not, please feel free to ignore this blog until I go back to whining about iOS 7 in September-ish. ^_^

The Internet ROCKS.

The Internet ROCKS.

I swear, I don’t know what I’d do if we’d never come up with this whole interconnected awesomeness thing.

I re-launched my business earlier this year, which involved picking a new business name. It was incredibly hard to come up with a name I liked that was also what my business needed, and I was so much better at it when I had help from lots of Twitter and ADN friends. People were so generous and pragmatic and willing to share their expertise. Plus, I found a couple great blogs with loads of helpful naming advice. I wasn’t able to shell out for those experts like I hoped to, but they were still incredibly supportive of me, and I know I’d go to them if I had to name a more grown-up company with a proper budget in the future. I learned so much about this entire naming field that I didn’t even know existed when I named my thing this time around. Which is clear, because that name and URL sucked, and they’re much better now. :)

IMG_3978Since the big rename and relaunch, I’ve predictably had many woes getting the technical details of my new website together, not to mention the graphical stuff that just totally loses me. My husband Grant has been my biggest helper in the graphics department, but the amazing Berklee has been a close second. He’s been ever so generous with his time and energy, throwing business card ideas and mockups at me faster than I can download the files. This was the final design*, in case you were wondering, although I plan to change the “consultant” terminology to something that better encapsulates what I actually do. (“Coach” is the closest I’ve got right now.)

Bryan Redeagle of Capsule DX offered to help me with web stuff, and he was so appalled by some of the shoddy code in my former theme that he just full-on wrote me a new one, all custom from scratch and designed to fix exactly the stuff that was frustrating me. He never charged me a penny, because we worked out a special deal, but mostly because he’s fucking awesome and he honestly just wanted to help (and wanted code to shine like all perfectionist programmers do). I can’t thank him enough, or recommend his work loudly enough. I’ve never gotten this level of service out of anyone I’ve hired for any project, except for the amazingly affordable florist at our otherwise overpriced wedding. Most of you who know me know that praise does not come from me unless it is sincerely deserved.

Marie of Code it Pretty has also been a very generous donor of her time and expertise. She already generously writes a blog that just helps people figure out frustrating web crap, and she’s so cool about chiming in when I have something tricky to solve. And oh, remember when I wanted to make that app? Well, it’s still in the works; I’ve had to kind of put it aside in favor of earning money via my main business. But Marie is weighing in about user experience and will probably help with an Android port someday.

Martin and Doug and some other generous folks all piped up wanting to assist me, which is fan-freaking-tastic and also incredibly generous. (Oh, and I never would have gotten in touch with them if it weren’t for Rob Rix by way of The Modern Scientist, who connected things via Twitter, and whom I met via Keith Bradnam whom I originally connected to because of some Marco or some 5by5 thing.) Oh, and I’m totally going to connect with Brandon Wright to make completely different apps down the road, because we just find each other awesome to work with and he reached out to me because of Quit.

Dude, even my ergonomics are improving, not as much as I’d like but still some. Fellow standing desk enthusiasts, from Lex Friedman to Kelly Guimont have chimed in about footwear and other tips for making my home work setup more reasonable, and Twitter-whining about various aspects of it has often produced helpful results. The most helpful thing of all, though, was a visit to the Fully showroom in Portland. I urge you to set up an appointment if you’re near there. Either way, some of the best recommendations  and price quotes I’ve gotten were from them, and of course I discovered them online.

Oh, and you know how I suck at being new to Mac? Well, of course loads of people have helped me out with that. Heck, Paul Holbrook sent me a PayPal contribution towards buying the damn thing because he could tell how badly I needed to switch, and Michael Clifford straight up bought me a license for Moom because he knew it would solve my problems. Oh, and the fantastic Jean MacDonald reached out, helped me get settled with some fantastic software, and has generally been insanely helpful and fun. So all those folks and everyone else I’ve mentioned and then some have just been so full of great links, tips, and advice. Let’s see, what other resources have I fallen in love with online, thanks to Internet connections? Mixergy. Marie Forleo. Heck, even Jenna Marbles inspires me. Laura Roeder. So many more I’m forgetting. But I never would have found any of those sources on my own!

And how did I forge most of these connections? Why, by listening to shows on 5by5 and communicating with that network’s general audience. A huge chunk of my most interesting Twitter following also grew out of me baiting Marco Arment into retweeting something useful or funny or silly or random I posted, and then following every single person who favorited or retweeted whatever that thing was. And you know what? That strategy has put me in touch with some of the coolest Internet pals I’ve met to date. I’ve had great conversations with many a jackal, and I’m also launching a podcast soon with Kai Davis and Chris Zaborowski.

And, of course, Quit. Most people who are bothering to read this know that I’ve called in to that show a good number of times, and that I’ve finally taken my online dating coaching business full time thanks in large part to the nudges I’ve received from Dan Benjamin, and to the inspiration that a number of shows on his network have provided. I continue to seek ways to make it more sustainable thanks to his relentlessly business-minded approach. And, of course, his shows inspired me, but so do the connections I’ve made from listening to them and appearing on them. I even got one (just one so far, but still) paying client who heard me first on Quit! Altogether, the social aspects of the Internet and of 5by5 in particular have skyrocketed my own success and happiness and ability to easily and quickly find affordable and effective solutions to at least 75% of my tech problems on this earth.

Lastly, I made many of these connections happen because of my own output, lest you think it’s ALL just Internet magick [sic]. I made them because I was open to socializing with people and learning new things. I was willing to put myself out there even when exhaustion or shyness or House of Cards would rather prevail. I followed up on leads, wrote things down, Skyped/FaceTimed/GooglePlusHung my little heart out, learned a bunch of new stuff, flared up my tendinitis, lost sleep, called 5by5 and waited on hold for hours, checked my email/DMs/etc., read, wrote, retweeted, subscribed, shook hands, followed back, spent money, and generally put myself out there and followed up on shit. But that effort has been so incredibly rewarding, and SO much easier than it would have been without all this great Internet infrastructure.

So to my friends and family members who don’t get why the Internet is so important to me and why I sometimes can’t stop checking my iPhone, well, you’ll probably never read this anyway so never fucking mind. But the Internet rocks. :)

 

 

 

*Special Business Card Footnote: Futura on the front, since I know .05 people are going to ask, and a weirdly condensed Franklin Gothic Medium on the back logo. Vistaprint; wouldn’t use ’em again; saving up for proper letterpressing but first things first financially, thanks Dan. Going with a press guy in Chicago who can paint the edges red too because OMG sexy. Curt Stevens of Lithocraft if you need ANYTHING printed in Seattle; tell him I sent you. Avoid Allegra Graphics in Greenwood no matter how good a deal you thin you’re getting; you’re welcome.